NHS trust pleads guilty to care failures over death of baby boy

An NHS trust pleaded guilty to failing to provide safe care and treatment after the death of a boy.

Representatives from the NHS Foundation Trust at East Kent Hospitals University were in court on the Monday after Harry Richford died, seven days after his emergency delivery.

An investigation found that Harry’s death in November 2017 at Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital in Margate was “totally preventable”.

At Folkestone Magistrates’ Court in Kent, the Trust admitted that it had failed to provide safe care and treatment for Harry and his mother, Sarah Richford, under the provisions of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (regulated activities).

The care of mothers and newborns in the Trust has come under heavy criticism after a number of baby deaths.

It has been reported that there have been at least seven preventable baby deaths in the trust since 2016.

The first such prosecution comes after Harry’s parents, Tom and Sarah Richford, fought for years for answers and advocated better safety in motherhood.

You were in court on Monday to hear the Trust plead guilty to the only amended indictment.

District Judge Justin Barron told Mr. and Mrs. Richford that he had the authority to impose an unlimited fine on the trust.

The conviction will take place on June 18 in the same court.

Prior to the hearing, Harry’s parents spoke to the PA news agency, saying they now have “some kind of justice” after years of fighting for change.

Mr. Richford told PA: “At every hurdle it seemed that the hospital was trying to avoid verification, they didn’t want to lose their reputation.”

“So we had to keep fighting and fighting and fighting and finally we now have the inquiries and inquiries and investigations that really mean that hopefully change should be more systemic and sustainable.”

Ms. Richford said, “We have a measure of justice, which means that Harry’s life, though short, has hopefully made a difference and that other babies won’t die.”

When asked, Susan Acott, managing director of East Kent Hospitals, said in a statement: “We are very sorry we have failed Harry, Sarah and the Richford family, and we apologize wholeheartedly for our mistakes in caring for them .

“We are determined to learn when something goes wrong.

“Our midwives, our doctors and each of our employees are constantly striving to ensure good care every day.

“We made significant changes after Harry’s death and will continue to do everything we can to learn from this tragedy.

“We work closely with national maternity experts to ensure that we are doing everything we can to achieve quick and sustainable improvements.

“We have welcomed the independent investigation into East Kent maternity services and are doing everything in our power to support and assist the investigation.”

Dr. Bill Kirkup, who led the Serious Maternity Failure Investigation at Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust University Hospitals, leads an independent review of East Kent Hospitals maternity services.


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